Bumper to bumper they came, their headlights cutting through the prairie night and converging, like the spokes of a giant wheel, on Dallas. Thirty thousand were in town by Saturday, 45,000 by Monday. From Wichita, Little Rock and Vicksburg, from Tulsa, Amarillo and Albuquerque, they drove, rode and flew.
When Jim Swink loped out onto the Bermuda grass turf with his TCU teammates and Eagle Day pitched his first practice pass for Mississippi there was scarcely a soul in the Cotton Bowl who begrudged Oklahoma and Maryland to Miami or UCLA and Michigan State to Pasadena. Swink, who scored 20 touchdowns during the season, and Day, the South's finest practitioner of the split-T run-pass option, were indeed the stars of the game. But the key figure in Ole Miss's upset 14-13 victory was a tall, gangling young man named Chuck Curtis who spent most of the afternoon in a Dallas hospital.
Before the game TCU Coach Abe Martin told Curtis, the team's only good passer, not to attempt to run the opening kickoff back under any circumstances. "If you catch it, throw it back to Swink," Martin said. But Curtis caught the opening kickoff, thought he saw daylight ahead, and ran anyway. Driven down under a three-man Mississippi tackle, Curtis was carried off with a bruised right shoulder and two broken ribs—and with him went TCU's passing game.
Dick Finney, a sub quarterback who had never run a down with the TCU first string, came in and did a fine job. But with Curtis gone, Ole Miss could afford to mass its defense and it was too tough an obstacle for even Swink to get around.
The burr-headed halfback managed to race for 107 yards in 19 carries and scored both of TCU's touchdowns. But TCU Fullback Harold Pollard had bad luck on his second conversion. A penalty nullified the kick which would have made it 14-0 and, on a second try from the seven, Pollard missed.
Day was the heart and soul of the Ole Miss attack. He showed he could run but, as SI pointed out in its Cotton Bowl Scouting Report (SI, Dec. 26), he would much rather throw. During the afternoon he completed 10 of 21 attempts for 137 yards, and two long passes set up the first touchdown. Fullback Paige Cothren scored from the two and then kicked the point. The Rebels came back again to win with less than 4½ minutes left in the game. Day set up the touchdown late in the fourth quarter with a 24-yard run down the middle and sub halfback Billy Lott scored from the five. Cothren again kicked the point and Ole Miss won 14-13.